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Monday, December 26, 2016

Til the Black Maria's Roll

We'll deal with it my friend...
...til the Black Marias roll
We'll be together til the end
Til they take us where we go.
 
The mob shouted! The mob clamored!
Like wolves shouting for a leader!
To lead them into the promised land
They wanted blood to spill
For their Trumpenführer's enemies they wanted ill
and heads to roll!
 
Now he struts and gesticulates like a bantam cock
With hair that dances like an orange sock.
And tiny hands
The wolves can agree only one thing
That he is their fearless leader.
It saves him from becoming chicken stock.
 
My friends say to each other "we'll petition and fight!"
We'll fight this evil and set things right!
Yes we'll march and demonstrate til the Black Marias Roll
We'll march and demonstrate til the Black Marias roll
 
refrain:
Til the Black Maria's roll my friend
Til the black Maria's roll.
We'll fight together until the end
Til the Black Maria's Roll
 
They made him their leader, this bantam Rooster!
His chin thrust out, the crowd gives a shout!
And he is our new fearless leader!
The soldiers march and the cheerleaders cheer
And the crowds are so happy,
their new leader is here!
"We'll make America Great Again!
 
The crowds shout out Jail her!
They shout for blood!
They'll make our country great again!
But the corrupt status quo must go!
We'll make our country hate again!
And all who oppose us must go!
 
refrain
 
And only his mob are allowed to cast a ballot!
He shouts; "the election is rigged"
and he makes sure it is!
The ballots are stuffed!
Her voters are cuffed.
Her voters are not allowed to vote!
 
refrain
 
The votes are in, he won the election!
Though more votes were cast for her!
If her voters hadn't been allowed to cast a vote!
then he'd have won by a landslide!
The votes are in, he won the election!
Though the reality was his win was a selection!
And his wolves have won by stealing the election!
"We'll Make America Great Again!"
 
refrain
 
He appoints Generals to his staff
He warns all who criticize him not to laugh
He blusters and threatens and warns and tells the world
America should be afraid!
"And I'm the only one who can save it.
And they swear him in.
 
refrain
 
He will build a wall, he says, he does.
What he doesn't tell us
is the wall is to keep us in.
He says he'll do something about Muslims, terrorism and fear.
What he doesn't tell us that he needs that terrorism and fear
to keep fearful people following him.
Fear makes people afraid.
And so the black Maria's roll
 
refrain:
 
Now the Black Marias are rolling my friend!
They are rolling across the country!
Picking up Immigrants, Muslims, Women and Children
Filling the black Maria's in the night.
and taking them to black sites
never again to be seen.
 
refrain
 
They follow that registry down to the last name.
They pick them up based on suspicion and secret evidence.
And once they have them they are never the same
Because of where the black Marias Go.
 
refrain
 
Wearing a hood, til the questioning begins.
Every kind of torture, no recourse, no trial
And we are so efficient, no mass graves.
Just never to be found.
It started with Muslims and Latino immigrants.
But soon lefties, dissidents and reporters too
They'd pay a bounty for each crew
Based on how many people they'd take.
So this became a business
Driving the Black Maria Crews.
 
refrain
 
So we march and demonstrate
We call for a new vote and file protests in court
And the officials laugh at us and take our names.
And dismiss our efforts as silly games
At least in public, but our name hits their list
 
refrain
 
When the black Maria's roll
we'll make our stand
behind barricades hand in hand
We'll endure bullets and bombs
And we'll be together til the end
til they take us where they go.

Christopher H. Holte, 12/26/2016

I pray this is not prophetic.

 

When Humans Act like Dogs (1/19/2017)

 

It's going to be a dark night
I dread the setting sun.
A winter coming of dread & fear
A Hot summer of sirens & doors knocked down
 
I can't understand humans
When we people act like dogs
When we gather in packs
tear victims to shreds.
& fight over scraps.
 
But I'd rather be a human
Then act like a pig.
I won't wallow in the muddy swamp
Or let fear keep me down.
 
I'll soldier on
Til the dawn of morning light
And I'll sigh in relief
When people are humans again

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rogue One: The Real New Hope

The new movie "Rogue one", is a "prequil" to the first Star Wars Movie ever made. And a fitting follow up to the third movie in the series. I can see why the Right Wing proto totalitarians hate the movie Rogue one. It talks about things not in fashion anymore. It is worth seeing folks!

If you haven't seen it yet, then stop here and go see it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice

The good news
Is today's our darkest day
& tomorrow will be easier
& light a little more.
Without the dark
There'd be no definition
Of good.

Christopher H. Holte, 12/21/2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Fan

I met a fan
I did not know I had.
 
She came to me
while I was sleeping
She told me she loved my poems
and works
And that they were very much worth keeping
 
She was all light and smiles
And told me how
My darkest poems had inspired her!
And she sent her baby
To where i lay
It walked over to me!
What a smile!
All lights and shines!
it lit up my soul!
 
The future is in such hands.
I held her for a moment
She smiled back up to me
Then I sent her back to her mother!
And they were gone.
 
I heard her in my heart.
We can do it if we try
We can transform this land
 
Indeed there are angels within, among us! Us!
We have to shine hope
We have to shine love.
We can learn to understand
Hope can spread through out this land
We have to be angels
To those we love.
 
That vision of that baby's smile
Is warmth that won't fade
I think it will warm us for a while
 
And that baby I saw
Will grow to a woman
Who, like her mother,
Will do wonderful things
With her smile.
Life won't be defeated
If we choose life!

Christopher Hartly Holte

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Implementing Democratic Subsidiarity

To make our system more successful we need to apply principles of Democratic Subsidiarity. I add the adjective "democratic" because without democratic features subsidiarity risks becoming a means for affirming updated forms of feudalism. The European Union is running into this problem because they can't agree and are afraid to enforce democratic or even representative principles when applying the principle of subsidiarity.

The notion of Democratic Subsidiarity hails from conservative arguments logically applied to good government:

"Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority."

Subsidiarity also is a term that hearkens back to Europe's Dark Ages and Feudal System. So beware of simplistic arguments!

In the context of Federations and confederations, this principle has to guide function for the members of a loose Federated government to be willing to join the confederation. However, not all political decisions logically are the jurisdiction of local authority. General decision making has to be a collective function of centralized authority mediated by leadership and some amount of coercive authority or Federations tend to be temporary and fly apart at the first sign of strain. General functions require that both local and central decisions be taken deliberately and with republican and democratic principles respected. Moreover, local functions usually require some sort of General support. For example the European Union created a monetary condominium with central banking managed chaotically under influence of centralized bankers. The result was that local governments weren't subject to rational accounting controls while at the same time the bankers were able to prey on local people and businesses without even the ability to fiscally assist local government. On the contrary local and national governments have been under the rule of compound interest and debt for money that rightfully should have belonged to the people as a whole. Creating the Euro was a good idea. Letting private banks govern it, not so good. Talking about subsidiarity without ordinary controls (regulations and rules) over local spending coupled with government that provides sufficient money to float an economy, is creating government without the tools to even survive.

Thus, Ironically, subsidiarity only works if it also encompasses republican and democratic principles.

  1. Republican principles include representation, separation of powers, and majority rule as a threshold for decision making. Democratic
  2. Democratic principles = governments that involve as many as possible of the ordinary people affected by them (within their jurisdiction).

Without representation consent of Governed of the governed becomes impossible. Countries without strong representative and rule of law principles tend to fly apart when people have minor disagreements and break out into warfare when they have major ones. Subsidiarity is a valid principle for some kinds of decisions and areas of government. Likewise governments without an informed and involved citizenry tend to be governed corruptly and poorly. "Competent authority" requires democratic controls (oversight). Subsidiarity requires both tools, privileges, checks and duties. Subsidiarity is a valid principle, but not by itself and not without that attribute "Democratic" added.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Machine Jeremiah

When the robots replace the Troopers
and Sentinels stand
at every city corner
and throughout all the lands.
 
Then people will fear no robber,
but will come to fear the machines.
For they will have nothing to eat for dinner
But dust and dirt and bile.
 
When floods come to the coastal cities
And droughts to all the plains
And the waters are all polluted
with poisons, oil and toxic fumes.
 
Then people will find no end to hunger
But disease, rot and stench
And the wealthy will retire to their bunkers
til it is their turn to die.
 
When the Machines replace the Troopers
Then the Cylons will go on the march
And mankind may disappear in fumes of Sulfur
Clothed skeletons unburied in the dust.
 
Then the skeletons of misers
will mingle with those of paupers
And the machines will bury themselves
and no life remain anywhere.
 
But Cold Sentinels will stand
dangling purple threads.
At the corners throughout the land
With Rusting computer voices
Gravelly and forgotten yet still remain.
To tell the winds our lives were in vain.
 

Christopher H. Holte 12/8/2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Promises to keep

All I had to do
Was keep a promise to you
And that is what I did
For your kid.
 
Time went on by
He learned how to fly
And then off he flew
In the sky
 
Now all I have to do
Is to keep a promise to you
To think of you each day
In the time that remains.
 
Time like sand
Sometimes more like a razor
To cut off a strand
Of something we love
 
Are we kidding ourselves
Do our loves really wait for us
At the end of our time
When our light grows dim?
 
Or is there some reality
Certainly not this one.
Where angels await us
Swimming in the light?
 
Or is it true
That the only thing waiting for us
Is a quiet shadow
That turns out the night.
 
It's all I can do
To soldier on through
Put one foot in front of the other
Til I can walk no more.
 
And when my labors are over
And the aches are too much
I lay myself down
And pray myself to sleep.

Christopher H. Holte

The poem contains an homage to Robert Frost and one of my favorite poems:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/42891

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Trumpster dumps Lee Atwater's Advice

Back in June (16, 2016) I was listening to a GOP TV spin doctor explaining how Donald Trump's racist, xenophobic and inflammatory language is actually a Good Thing!. I can't recall which Channel it was or which Spin Doctor (there were a lot of them) but as I expected this lead trial balloon actually flew among the Righties and the GOP manipulators who go along with this sort of thing. Trump's leadership fit the EMAD profile! Altemeyer was writing about this years ago. All that was missing from the list of features of a Fascist movement was the fearless leader and Brownshirts. Trump provided the fearless leader our many fascists were looking for!

Trump's call to Taiwan is an example of him behaving like Fascist leaders in the past.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Democratic Capitalism and it's Discontents -- Review of Brian C. Anderson's book

Attack of the Pseudo Intellectual

Been reading "Capitalism and it's Discontents". I literally disagree with 90% of the author's opinions. But his facts are fascinating even if I find myself drawing opposite conclusions from many of them. The book is worth a critical read.

Critique of Empires

I found myself agreeing with his critique of the book "Empire" by Hardt and Negri, while failing to be convinced by his defense of globalization. The fact is that Negri and Hardt are right when they talk about globalization causing misery. The misery of globalization is blowback from how it occurs. Not the fact that it occurs. At the same time he is right that we don't need to eradicate "private property", celebrate revolutionary violence, whitewash any form of totalitarianism, nor pour contempt on our more democratic republican societies. By not doing a real analysis of what Negri and Hardt says, and dismissing it with a similar kind of contempt to that he sees in their writings -- he sets up the rest of his book as an attack on the same societies that Negri and Hardt attack -- but from the other direction.

An Uncivil attack on States Serving their people

But then after critiquing Negri's attack on the modern world from the left, his next chapter "From State to Civil Society" he tries to level a similar attack on social welfare. He celebrates economic dysfunction, "pour[s] contempt" on "the state" (using the term "statist") to describe social services and ignores the impact of the things that Negri and Hardt rightly described thus whitewashing the impact of laissez faire capitalism.

Misrepresenting Subsidiarity

He also deliberately misrepresents the concept of subsidiarity, using it as a classic strawman. He quotes John Paul II's Centessimus Annus and then claims that:

"These problems flow from the welfare state's violation of the classic Catholic principle of subsidiarity."

He goes on to define the problem:

"a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the later of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help it coordinate its activity with the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."

He then goes on to claim that with subsidiarity "responsibility should rest first with the individual and then in ascending order with those nearest..." "and finally-only as a last resort-the state."

Subsidiarity as Dogma versus prescription for improvements

Thus he states dogma when he could offer suggestions for delivering services more efficiently. He rightly criticizes bureaucratic government and the centralization that makes welfare pernicious. But he fails to recognize that the real problem with social welfare is that modern states, like the Catholic Church itself, by centralizing and hoarding resources deprive local authorities of the resources they needy in order to meet their needs. The modern state deprives local communities of the sorts of decision making authorities and structures -- local government -- that they need in order to meet their own needs. It is precisely because poor neighborhoods are poor that drug addiction, illegitimacy, unemployment and blight ravage neighborhoods. It is precisely because our system robs workers of income, robs wannabe workers of work, and makes it impossible for renters to own their homes or be safe and secure in their persons, that welfare became necessary as a kludge to replace functions that once were done by local parishes and community associations. He blames the victims.

He attacks welfare with all the thoughtless tropes of Right Wing intellectuals. In the process he confuses cause with effect, and deliberately ignores the role of racism, classicism and wealth in setting up the poor to fail. He gives lip service to "self governing adults" -- but that has to be part of the setup of local government. It can't be a tool to bash those living in cities or denied the protection of legislative, judicial and executive representation. Public welfare, should indeed be a responsibility of individuals and local government using the principles of financial and political subsidiarity. But they should be supported and supervised by people representing general government.

Using Jouvenal to attack Democracy

Rather than state his own ideas, Anderson quotes Bertrand de Jouvenal, to blame the enlightenment and democracy itself as the cause of totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Jouvenal was a fascist in the 30's. And that regressive attitude informs Anderson's book and his review of his writings. He identifies "Power" with the "Minotour" of Minoan myth. He claims that western democracies embrasure of dominance, which he dismissed earlier when he criticized "Empire", leads to totalitarianism. He identifies this with the doctrine of the "people" claiming that the problem is the denial of divine lawmaking in favor of human lawmaking. Rule of law with popular sovereignty. And then claims that a loss of "objective standards" leads to a moral relativism, selfishness and an erosion of civil society. In his mind the threat comes from secularization. His book in general discounts the role that authoritarianism exerts in fueling totalitarianism. Jouvenal himself was an authoritarian. His vision of a restored order to society was fascist.

But Anderson soft pedals that side of the story. He is right that demagogues take advantage of the people and stir up mobs in the name of restoring some vision of a utopian past civil order, that usually never existed. But usually the demagogues use religion as a tool and themselves are expert practitioners of the tools of sophism. Persons who are Exploitive, Manipulative have an Amoral orientation and are Manipulative, tend to be perfectly willing to use notions of rule of law and civil behavior to dominate and control mobs from among the masses of people. Both direct democracy, other forms of order and "thick community" may be impossible in our modern world at the level of general government, but they are possible and plausible if governments are organized as federated hierarchies. He is right to identify that "noxious activities" should be prohibited. But Jouvenal, and therefore Anderson, offers a dour analysis, with no prescriptive power. He argues against redistribution without even trying to refute the evils of monopoly and massive inequality he dismissed so readily earlier but admits in his discussion of Jouvenal.

He finishes his book with an effort to resurrect a zombie version of Sartre and concludes his book "we need no ideologies, no programs...but by connecting with our preliberal past..." Oh God, spare me a return to the middle ages! Read this book critically folks.

Sources and Further Readings

Brian C. Anderson: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/expert/brian-c-anderson
https://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Capitalism-Discontents-Brian-Anderson/dp/1933859245

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Balancing Budgets As Financial Warfare on Ordinary People

An actual country is an economic unit with a government. Balancing a countries "budget" should not be about the countries money supply primarily, but about the resources, capabilities and production necessary to the health of that country and its relations with its neighbors and trading partners. Money measures economic wealth and enables trade, taxes and sales of production. A country's budget is not solely about its bank account but about the people living in that country and their bank accounts. And in the modern world, no single country stands alone, rather we all must work together. Thus as Henry George prescribed 120 years ago and James Galbraith has demonstrated in his writings:

“In a successful financial system, there must be a state larger than any market. That state must have monetary control – as the Federal Reserve does, without question, in the United States.” [Review of The Poisoned Challice]

Friday, November 25, 2016

EMAD Trump -- why the wheels won't come off in Time

An article in The Globe by Thomas Homer Dixon tries to find a rainbow in all the storm clouds. But I'm afraid it doesn't work for me. He describes the Trumpenführer as a Social Dominator:

"like a bizarre hybrid of an idiot savant and a Mafia don." Who is "scarily brilliant when it comes to understanding and manipulating a crowd’s emotions, especially its anger and fear."

Problem is that he could be describing Hitler or Mussolini. In fact Thomas Dixon is describing the classic dictator personality of what Altemeyer describes as the "Socially Dominant" Demagogue! He is describing Trump's epitomizing the EMAD Scale:

E: Trump is Exploitive!
M: Trump is Manipulative!
A: Trump is Amoral
D: Trump is Deeply Dishonest
E.M.A.D!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump's Infrastructure plan is Dreck

Giving Sovereignty over the Economy to Pirates

When Hillary talked about balancing the budget without adding to the national debt, I wanted to cheer, and about investing in infrastructure. wanted to cheer largely and disagree in part. But when Trump talks about infrastructure investment I want to jeer his privateering plans. She and her advisors are still under the sway of certain myths about money and economy that are deeply entrenched in American Academia, Business & Finance. But, thanks to the influence of the Post Keynesians, less so than before. Her plans were reasons for guarded optimism. His are pure Dreck

Trump's Plan is a Scam

It will:

  1. Will enrich the already wealthy
  2. Loot the Treasury immediately through bonds &
  3. Loot the treasury long term by transferring ownership to private persons
  4. Be funded by Tax cuts, tax breaks and tolls/rents

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Good Bye Aunt Patty

My Aunt Patty died last week. The service was 11/19/2016 (yesterday). And I wanted to memorialize her because in addition to being my mom's only Sister she was a great person; very caring, loving and dedicated to helping others. She loved most the house she lived in Lusby. A lot of stories were told yesterday. Some were too private to share here right now. But I wanted to share this poem dedicated to her. Maybe I'll write about some of them later, before I forget them and they float on the wind.
Let the children run and play here!
Love, don't send them away, my dears.
I am mother to them all, son.
Don't drive them away from where I sleep.
For their happiness is in our keep.
 
I sleep restfully, knowing
their footsteps are overhead
Their running comforts my dreams
They cannot disturb my sleep.
 
Let the children play dear,
Tell them they're always welcome here
For my time among the living is over, it is clear
And it was so they could dance near
And enjoy life beneath the sun.
 
Christopher Hartly Holte

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Fallacy of the Final Answer

History presents us with a lot of lessons. Some of those lessons are about our fallacious reasoning. One of our primary fallacies is the "fallacy of the final answer." Throughout history, mankind, and individuals have made this mistake. Chariots, close in formation legionaries, Armored Cavalry, Maginot lines, etc.... each, in turn, found itself countered and bested. In military thinking, in strategic thinking, in Science, in the Soft Sciences, in all of these endeavors; theories rise and fall, get revised, lost and reborn. And we humans still grope, fruitlessly, to put a final framework on the truth. History doesn't end. Theories tend to display weaknesses that beg revisions. One generation's certainties are the next's subject for refutations. The fallacy of the final answer is the hubris of mankind.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hannah Arendt, Donald Trump and the Stateless

Nativists Versus the Stateless

Around the world nativism is raising it's ugly head again. Some People in nations all over the world are rising in rejection of immigrants, refugees and minorities among their own people. This phenomena is not new. It is not trivial or benign either. It was a feature of totalitarianism in the 30s and since. It is also a feature of totalitarian groups.

Demagoguing Immigrants

Unfortunately, we just elected a Nativist President in the United States. His premier appointments are the open nativist Bannon and the racist Reince Prebius. The "alt right" is just an updated fascism. They are folks who openly admire Hitler as a hero and want to continue his work. People who proudly wear KKK robes and talk about race war and their own identity. They are openly fascist. And their target are people who are minorities, "mixed races" and the stateless. Nativism is as ugly now as it has ever been. And nativists are set to direct the country from the White House. Trump himself talks openly about his racialist beliefs, but mainly he is demagogueing the subject.

Von Mises and Tony Wikrent

Economic Sophism

Sophism in economics and politics is like the Hydra. As soon as you cut off one head, new ones grow. Fascism never really goes away.

After we defeated the Nazis their fascism simply morphed into new forms. The same tropes that animated Mediterranean fascist states soon animated Latin American, Greek, Indonesian and other movements. What works for bomb throwing lefties works for bomb throwing righties. And it gets hard to tell them apart as they radicalize.

Similarly, the economic theories that support both monarchism and fascism never really went away. They are too convenient to the patroons to fund them to be allowed to go away. They serve the needs of the ambitious, to social climbers, grifters, swindlers and those with the perverse ambition and power to preserve and extend their personal power using them to bamboozle followers. So the shills for such ideas, don't disappear, they adapt.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Are Central Bankers Pirates with a Conscience or simply Clueless?

I get feeds from conservative websites. This lets me see "what the other side" of arguments are. Usually I find that whatever they are saying reflects a point of view I disagree with. But they have to argue based on facts, and any argument based on facts is subject to debate. No article reflects this more than the article I'm reviewing here:

"Do Central Bankers Know What They're Doing Anymore?" by Kevin Dowd

Review

If you accept his central premise, then his arguments are on point. However I cannot accept his central Premise, and indeed I think anyone in the Modern Money Theory (movement) or who is a Post Keynesian would argue that his central premise is really what is wrong with Banking. Moreover it is why the Bankers are caught in no-win situations. They have no clue because the industry they regulate is self-destructive and all that they do as long as they accept that central premise will fail.

Separation of Money and State

He tries to put it in government principles:

"Separating Money and State" [Dowd]

The Tory Revolt

For the Pirates, Kevin Dowd describes how the "Tories" wanted the Bank of England to "be operationally independent of governments":

"We [the Tory “survivors”] decided not to demur. In private, we had considered doing the same thing ourselves. The idea that central banks should be free of political pressures and the electoral cycle as they set interest rates had become a prevailing one across the world — with good reason after the many wild swings in inflation and interest rates over previous decades." [Dowd]

The problem is that the Tory Bankers don't really want the bank to be free of politics, they want it free of "popular considerations" and to serve their "private, separate interest" first. That this is the definition of Tyranny according to Locke Doesn't occur to them. Of course John Locke was a Whig and these are Tories, a word that derives from a word for highwaymen and pirates ("toraidhe"). So this should be no surprise. But Tories dominate Banking and Finance world-wide and they especially dominate Central Banking, which has roots in pirateering and colonialism.

So separating the central banks from "political concerns" is really letting the central banks govern money for, by and of the interests of the banking system, without considering concepts of commonwealth, common-weal, or common sense. With pretty much inevitable results.

Inevitable results

Dowd rightly notes that PM Brown and the Tories got what they wanted. And seem to be misusing it. Referencing William Hague he notes how:

"Hague goes on to suggest that central bankers have badly misused the powers that were granted them and are “now in deep trouble,” continuing to pursue “emergency policies” that are “becoming steadily more unpopular and counter-productive.” Unless a course correction comes soon, central bankers “will find their independence increasingly under attack.” [Dowd]

He continues by noting that:

"In 2008 the central banks reacted to a massive crisis they had completely failed to foresee by cutting rates to record lows and embarking on “quantitative easing” … The trouble is that eight years later they are, to varying degrees, still doing it. Like doctors keeping their patients on a drip many years after an operation, they are losing credibility and producing very dangerous side effects." [Dowd]

Clearly quantitative easing isn't removing liquidity traps, freeing investment, putting workers back to work or much of anything except slowing a slide to misery for just about everyone, including the Tory Class. Therefor the question becomes;

"why are these “emergency policies” counter-productive?"

Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription

I think we can agree with Dowd and Hague that they aren't working. Indeed and naturally Tories like Dowd and Martin Hutchinson would use the failures to justify doubling down on destructive policies. Indeed they claim the "Overton Window" is moving in their direction, which is code for the willingness of the general public to swallow painful "medicines." They might be right. The Tories have done this before. It doesn't work, but it appears to improve things when Central Bank policy is failing. Dowd is right that "central banks are facing a legitimation crisis." But while he borrows Marxian language (actually term coined by Jürgen Habermas) but his prescription is anything but Marxist!

He rightly points out:

"He then outlines no less than 10 serious drawbacks from ZIRP and QE that could be “politically explosive or economically unwise if continued indefinitely”:

  1. Savers find they can’t earn a worthwhile return and are driven into riskier assets whose prices rise further.
  2. Asset holders get much richer, but others are left out, seriously exacerbating social and political divides and fueling the anger behind populist campaigns.
  3. Pension funds have poor returns and therefore suffer huge deficits, causing businesses to have to put more money into them rather than finance expansion.
  4. Banks find it harder to run a viable business, a problem very evident now in Germany and Italy.
  5. Those who are able to save more do so, because they need a bigger pot of savings to get an equivalent return, i.e., low-interest rates cause those people to spend less, not more.
  6. Companies have an incentive to use borrowed money to buy back shares rather than spend the money on new productive investments. Central banks are buying up corporate bonds, not just government bonds, so they are acquiring risky assets themselves and giving preference to some companies over others.
  7. Zombie companies are allowed to stay in business only because they can borrow so cheaply, which drags down productivity. Pumping up the prices of stock markets and houses without an underlying improvement in economic performance becomes ever more difficult to unwind and ultimately threatens an almighty crash when it does come to an end.
  8. When people see emergency measures going on for nearly a decade it undermines their confidence in central bankers, whom they think have lost the plot.

[Dowd]

A Classic Liquidity Trap

All of these are caused by the inability of the banking system to move investment into actual capital spending and out of reserves. My friend Kimbal Corson ties this to hoarding of liquidity. This creates a classic and persistent overall liquidity trap as described by John Maynard Keynes, but not amenable to using the banking system to fix under current rules. It requires fiscal measures, but those are constrained by the need for governments to borrow to pay for those measures. Around the world entire nations are trapped by bad central banking policies. Why?

Well for Dowd, Hague and Hutchinson the solution requires pain. hard choices:

"I am not an economist but I have come to the conclusion that central banks collectively have now indeed lost the plot. The whole point of their independence was that they could be brave enough to make people confront reality. Yet in reality, they are blowing up a bubble of make-believe money to avoid immediate pain, except for penalizing the poor and the prudent." [Dowd]

Reality for Tories = Pain

Make people confront reality == foreclosures, layoffs, business closures. Yet QE just draws out that same process into a slow torture. The solution they want is for a condominium of Central Banks to

"no single central bank could reverse these policies without causing a recession for their own country, unless there was a coordinated move by all central bankers to gradually raise interest rates." [Dowd]

Doing it in Concert might cause World Wide Depression

Not only are the central bankers clueless, but so are Dowd, Hague and Hutchinson. Their "solution" would benefit the financial sector but not necessarily do anything for workers, small business or others. But they face a situation where the money supply is not sovereign anywhere! And this is the result of not having liquidity in the system. Bankers don't lend because they know they won't get returns. People can't borrow because they don't have the credit. They don't have the credit because they don't have the money. They don't have the money because those who have it won't invest. That is a Keynesian liquidity trap on a world scale. He notes:

"The policies of any one central bank may well be perfectly rational ... But so is a decision by any one sheep to run with the flock when in danger. The trouble is that the whole flock might be heading for a cliff." [Dowd]

And if they act in concert their is no guarantee that raising interest rates will not send the whole world off that cliff. To the Tories of banking not raising interest rates is the disaster. But the real disaster is that bankers are being forced to deal with Governing issues they are incompetent to fix. Everyone in the Post Keynesian/MMT movement knows that this trap requires Fiscal spending and money going to the right hands for the right purposes. QE just goes to the wrong hands for the wrong reasons.

Wrong Hands for Wrong Reasons

"I have bad news for them. The accumulating effects of loose monetary policy globally are intensely political. When pension funds renege on promises, or inequality widens further, or savers become desperate, huge public and political anger is gong to burst over the heads of the world’s central banks."" [Dowd]

The real problem is that the "loose money" is in the hands of people not prepared to spend on actual capital or things that will break the worldwide liquidity trap. QE puts printed money in the hands of privateers, speculators and lenders with no one to lend to. Without a means to dry out excess reserves it just adds to the reserves of banks and lets them concentrate their businesses even more.

Dowd quotes Hague's prescription:

"The only way out is for the US Fed to summon the courage to lead the way to higher interest rates, and others to follow slowly but surely. If they fail to do so, the era of their much-vaunted independence will come, possibly quite dramatically, to its end." [Dowd]

One of my friends demonstrated mathematically that such increases in interest rates drive inequality and commodity inflation (though they depress wages). However if interest rates in the commercial sector go up while Governments have the resources to spend money into existence and invest in needed services and infrastructure, then that is no longer such an issue. Using MMT principles; farmers are fronted the money for seed and tools rather than having to borrow in such a way that they get no benefit from a mediocre harvest. Cities fix roads and highways without running out of money because the money lent is paid for with tax collections at the end of the seasons. The Tories consider such "funny money" but I'm sure they'll pay their taxes with it if it is actual legal tender.

Recession as a "Cure" for QE that is worse than the disease

To the wealthy Tories of banking, the only solution that is acceptable is for the USA to raise its interest rates so that other countries will be forced to follow suit and bankers can begin loaning at usury again. Raising interest rates will not work. It will simply start to hurt folks who need to borrow money and depress the ability of local government to spend on local needs. Which just drives the centralization and impoverisment cycle.

But they are right that all the countries need to work in concert. What they need to do is to:

  1. raise taxes uniformly and progressively on unearned incomes from rent and speculation while protecting basic income.
  2. Issue notes at zero interest to local and general government backed by expected tax collections or for productive projects.
  3. Use MMT principles to invest in infrastructure, markets and tax back unearned profits from the money privilege.
  4. Tax monopolies out of existence or into management as public utilities for the general good.
  5. Protect resources put back into the economy from taxation so that there is incentive not to hoard liquid wealth.
  6. Enable governments to engage in fiscal policy without usurious burden on their citizens.
  7. Give countries credit for their exports at zero interest and let them spend that on imports.

This is in draft form -- I have a couple of related pieces to write before it will be a finished product.

Tories and Whigs
"Word Tory derived from the Irish toraidhe ‘outlaw, highwayman,’ from tóir ‘pursue.’ The word was used of Irish peasants dispossessed by English settlers and living as robbers, and extended to other marauders especially in the Scottish Highlands. It was then adopted circa 1679 as an abusive nickname for supporters of the Catholic James II." Also describes pirates, including legal pirates (privateers).
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/09/tories-and-whigs.html
"Do Central Bankers Know What They're Doing Anymore?" by Kevin Dowd
https://fee.org/articles/do-central-bankers-know-what-theyre-doing-anymore

Draft published 11/3/2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Front Money First then tax the Money Privilege

Sustaining an Economy that has the feature of Commonwealth Via MMT principles

Source: [Levy]

When Hillary talks about balancing the budget without adding to the national debt, I disagree a bit with her. She and her advisors are still under the sway of certain myths about money and economy that are deeply entrenched in American Academia, Business & Finance. Although thanks to the influence of the Post Keynesians and Modern Money Theory (MMT), less so than before. This is a reason for guarded optimism. I hope she'll listen to what he has to say. If Trump wins, heaven help us. If we can develop an economy with sovereign powers over our money we can do everything we want to, within reason, well. This is because most of what we've been taught about balancing budgets is false.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Project Alamo Trump Builds an explicitly Fascist movement

Trump & Bannon aren't planning to go away after the election. Joshua Green writes in Bloomberg in an article called "Inside the Bunker" about Trump's long term plan to transform his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States (POTUS) in an Alt Right movement, whether Trump gets elected or not. He explains how Trump Staffers like Brad Parscale are using database, direct marketing driven methods to create and maintain, a network of followers that will, hopefully for the Trumpster, outlast the election. This is a less benign effort similar to what the Obama Campaign did in 2008 but with a different set of objectives.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Trump Channels Jeff Davis at Gettysburg

I had trouble finding Trump's Gettysburg address. One article that claimed to be about it was actually the transcript of one of his Florida speeches. The second was his prepared remarks, which he referenced but didn't read straight. I was trying to avoid actually listening to him so I wouldn't throw a shoe at my TV. He tried to sound like Gingrich. He wants another contract on America. I look at his contract and some of it might be acceptable, but most is not.

● FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
The best way to impose term limits is by having public, well resourced and transparent elections.
● SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
This slanders Federal workers. It also is a hollow thing since the agencies wind up hiring more privateering contractors instead of permanent employees, which generates increased corruption and conflict of interest. But it sounds good to his base.
● THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
This caters to the corrupt and lazy business establishment which blame regulation for their inability to squeeze more money out of unemployed and underpaid workers.
● FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
This has already been tried. It doesn't work. The best way to avoid this is, counterintuitively, to reward public service and reduce the value of corporate lobbyists by increasing the power of ordinary citizens to lobby their government, to use ordinary courts to deal with disputes and to input on regulatory decisions and record grievances.
● FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
He'd have to fire his staff.
● SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
Same

Disrupting our Economy

● FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
For all the complaints about NAFTA withdrawing from it would disrupt our economies and probably plummet our society into a depression.
● SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
So much for that.
● THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
This is presumptuous, ignores the most basic rules of due process, and would provoke the Chinese to retaliate. A trade war with China would hurt us.
● FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
This is something all our Presidents already do.
● FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
Great idea, more communities to be poisoned, disrupted and then shut down when the Grifters leave town. We already are producing at a maximum.
● SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
Keystone would have served an export market for Canada. Done nothing for US jobs.
● SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
This sounds like a lot of money, but the country needs to invest nearly a billion dollars. Not the millions we contribute are nowhere near "billions".

This list is mostly symbolic, based on lies about the causality of our economic issues, and much of it would hurt the people who are screaming for it.

The Really Scary Stuff

The rest of his list is a mix of lies, unfunded promises and some really scary stuff. So I'll skip to the really scary stuff and hope I don't have to finish explaining why the rest of his garbage is demagoguery.

● FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
He calls them "unconstitutional" but that his his opinion.
● SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
Which means to him and fellow Cons, putting someone who will deny the right to privacy implied by "secure in ones papers and personal effects, and key to Roe Versus Wade
● THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
That would take a statute. But essentially he's promising retaliation to cities where Democrats are a majority.
● FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back
Rolling the cattle cars.
● FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
War on Muslims. Applying the "bad skittles" fascist argument. Again with the cattle cars and concentration camps!

10 Legislative faux promises and Privateering

His ten legislative proposals are all things that benefit his corporate sponsors or things the GOP will not pass, because the GOP created most of them in the first place.

1. Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act.

He claims this is a plan that would benefit the middle class: "An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy." He claims that "the largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut." Which sounds good but such tax cuts are always tied either to revenue cuts to programs that pay out to the middle class. So essentially this sounds good but it is like lead acetate -- really a poison.

When he says "The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate." he is talking about the bulk of his "middle class tax cuts" going to the top 1%, even more to the top .1% and to the billionaire classes, who really don't need it and will only hoard money and loan it at interest and use that to knock more people out of the middle class. It is a plan for destroying the middle class not helping them.

2. End The Offshoring Act Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

Since the GOP refuses to pass anything like this now, I doubt they'll do it for Trump. Although once he destroys the middle class they'll be willing to work for less than Chinese workers.

3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act.

He claims he'd "Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years." His claim that "it is revenue neutral" might be true in the short term, but shifting incentives to the private sector, privateering, shifts the revenues from energy and infrastructure to the pirates. And most our infrastructure and energy repair and upgrade needs that require public sustainment need to be directed in the public interest, or instead of lifting "all boats" they will simply aggravate our already oppressive economic inequality and boost it to new levels of misery.

4. School Choice And Education Opportunity Act.

"School Choice" "Redirects education dollars" in a fashion that gives some parents privileged access to public money, while denying the same right to others. Seeking to establish a "right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice" winds up starving public schools and denying resources based on income. His promise to "end common core" claims to offer to "bring education supervision [back] to local communities" but it won't do so as the centralization it legitimately criticized is generated by State power not Federal power. Trump claims he'll "expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable" but he's planning to cut funding for these efforts -- so he's lying.

5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act.

Likewise Trump means it when he promises to "Fully repeals Obamacare" but when he promises to "replace it with Health Savings Accounts" and "the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines" is a give-away to upper middle class and wealthy citizens but is at the expense of blue collar workers as is letting "states manage Medicaid funds" which they do presently under regulations that prevent them from stealing them. Trump's plan would continue the trend to deny healthcare to the working poor and tradesmen. Ironically, most of whom are eating up this proposal as if it will help them. Trump would also protect snake oil salesmen like himself: "Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA" Trump seems to think that cutting the red tape on the "over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval" will speed "the approval of life-saving medications." But either the FDA vets those drugs or people will find the unvetted medications life destroying.

Health Savings accounts and the like do nothing for folks making low wages or with unsteady jobs. Most people can't afford them, and most small employers won't be able to afford them even for themselves. His "reforms" are simply a return to the status quo ante and a means for denying access to health care.

6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act.

His proposal to "Allow Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes" is a give away to the upper middle class and the wealthy. It will do nothing for blue collar workers and most tradesmen. It sounds nice to "incentivize employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families" but these programs don't deliver to low-income families and are actually more costly than simple single payer approaches.

7. End Illegal Immigration Act

Trump claims he can "Fully-fund the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall" -- Which can only be enforced if Trump invades Mexico; "establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation" -- which also would divide mixed families and create the usual problems of injustice, along with his "5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations" -- I suppose the private prison system would like this. We already have "penalties for overstaying" and deny "open jobs" to undocumented or poorly documented aliens. These laws, without enforcing penalties on those who hire undocumented workers or put in the infrastructure to document workers better -- are worse than useless. They are designed to establish a pool of cheap labor either by driving more people underground or through prison camps.

And Trump pretty much threatened to wage war on Mexico in his Gettysburg Address.

8. Restoring Community Safety Act.

He wants to do yet another round of "Reduc[ing] surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars." So much for decriminalization, treatment and rehabilitation. The more people we put behind bars the more it costs us, short term and long term. This sounds good to Sheriffs, however, as they need the funds.

9. Restoring National Security Act.

Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values.

We presently spend more money than any two or three of our largest rivals combined.

10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act.

Repeats Newt Gingrich's fake reforms to "Enact new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics." These do little good without the power to enforce them, transparency and public financing of the electoral process.

Malice towards everyone -- Channeling Jeff Davis

I didn't want to do a point by point critique. But I couldn't help myself and someone needs to do it. And this is just the stuff his handlers wanted him to say. Daily Mail notes:

Trump "aired more grievances against the journalism profession and the parade of women who have accused him of unwanted kissing and groping years – and in some cases decades – ago" and said "after the election, he plans to sue them." Quoting Trump:

'Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never,' Trump declared. 'All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.'

Trump is also promising to persecute the Democrats for allegedly starting fist fights. So we'll be arrested and beaten up for letting Trump thugs arrest us and beat us up at his rallies. What makes this a bit dicey is that if Trump wins he'll also have the FBI, IRS, Secret Service, and his minions in local police, going after US!

His comments warning he won't accept the electoral outcome unless he wins, and promising insurrection, rebellion and retaliation, are more reminiscent of Jefferson Davis in 1860 than Abraham Lincoln in 1862 or 1863 when he gave the Gettysburg address. The Southerners invaded the North every year from 1862 to 1864. The last time they did so they tried to attack Washington and nearly shot Abraham Lincoln at the battle of Fort Stevens. Despite that Lincoln called for "malice towards none." Trump reeks of malice.

Prepared Remarks
https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/CONTRACT_FOR_THE_VOTER.pdf
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3861392/Trump-prepares-Gettysburg-address-unveiling-100-days-agenda-aides-say-Hillary-just-waiting-clock.html

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hannah Arendt on Donald Trump's Mob

Trump's Mob

Watching this election made me pull out my copy of "The Origins of Totalitarianism" by Hannah Arendt.

Here is what she wrote about Trump's followers:

“The mob is primarily a group in which the residue of all classes are represented. This makes it easy to mistake the mob for the people, which also comprises all strata of the people. While the people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob will always shout for the “strong man,” the “great leader.” For the mob hates society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented.” [Origins]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

bait and switch confidence scheme of conservatism

A friend of mine noted that "Trump rose on GOP's 3 pillars" [Trumps 3 Pillars]:

racism(birtherism),
xenophobia(build wall)&
Islamophobia(Muslim ban).

"Anybody who sez otherwise is full of sh!t",

....and I have to agree. But that is only part of what is going on. If you go to one of the Conservative Websites designed to recruit students. They will tell you that the "four pillars of Conservatism" are:

Bait:
1 liberty / freedom
2 tradition & order
3 rule of law
4 belief in God
Source: https://home.isi.org/pillars-modern-american-conservatism

This sounds nice, except the constitution explicitly prohibits inserting religion into politics, since it is generally divisive and there is no true catholic and orthodox religion unless authorities resort to authoritarianism and impose it; or religious authorities have the wisdom to stay out of areas where their knowledge fails to be helpful.

But nobody can argue with concepts like liberty and freedom. Nothing is wrong with tradition & order, except that imposing it on others means abrogating or infringing on personal liberty and freedom, and tradition is something that has to have some flexibility or it becomes a source for oppression.

So essentially liberty/freedom are in potential conflict with tradition/order -- so these pillars have to balance or they bring down the table they are supporting.

Conserving Things

Us Progressives argue that tradition should not be restraining on improving personal and public welfare. They'd agree on Items one and three, but argue with rigid adherence to authority. Tradition should guide us not bind us.

And of course there are religious progressives and religious conservatives. So on the whole most people are fine with all four traditions and just differ on the degree to which they feel bound by #2. Progressives included!

Progressives believe that "order" should not be an excuse to infringe on people's private behavior. We are the conservatives on matters of personal liberty, mostly.

So in theory conservatives would be environmentalists, conserving the traditions of public access to parks and recreation, our harmony with nature, and man's role as Gardner of the planet tending to God's creation. Conservation of Nature is a conservative value.

In theory conserving the public good would be a conservative principle. The bible enjoins conservatives to look out for "widow's and orphans" to help one's "brother", and to contribute to the public welfare. Under a conservative regime paying tithes would be mandatory and public welfare would be administered through the churches. In our secular society it is too much for Churches, who have no one to enforce their tithes. So those advocating dismantling the welfare state are not conservatives. They look for other excuses to nullify the constitutionality of such programs -- saying the Church should do them. But upholding that tithes should not be mandatory. Thus defenestrating Churches from doing that role.

I point that out because there is nothing conservative about building giant walls, abrogating treaties, or doing away with public welfare, privatizing public services and education, or turning over our resources to rich people. All that is not conservatism.

The Confidence Scheme

So what it is is that modern conservatism is a confidence scheme. Read the offered link and you'd think that conservatism is all about liberty and tradition, upholding the constitution and establishing order over criminals and terrorists seeking to invade and trouble the country.

But the sales of conservatism are aimed at convincing people that a particular religious ideology, a particular tradition and peculiar ideas of who, what, how and why we get and keep order in our society. Modern conservatives complain about Donald Trump, but he's only pushing ideas that the GOP has developed and used over the past 50 years in order to win elections by stoking fear, paranoia and anger. I could go into detail but I won't. I have other things I need to be doing right now.

Besides, I wrote on this 2 years ago, talking about Lee Atwater:

http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/southern-strategy-and-war-on-poor.html

People should read my article and it's references

But of course the 4 pillars are the bait in a confidence scheme!

The Switch

Unfortunately, the reality, the "switch" of the conservative confidence game is that the only thing conservatives are actually conserving is wealth.

Their economic distress is diverted, using scapegoating, to bigotry. Part of the con! Sell them on "conservatism" hook them with hate!

switch:
1 No liberty unless white
2/3 order & law = authoritarianism
4 belief in God unless Muslim.

So essentially the "4 Pillars of conservatism" translate to nativism and authoritarianism.

Trump is the creation of Lee Atwater, Reince Priebus and the GOP

I have a lot more to say, but I need to work on some other things right now.

Further reading

https://home.isi.org/pillars-modern-american-conservatism
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/southern-strategy-and-war-on-poor.html

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The King and His Lament

Maybe when the battle is over I can pity the man
Whose Armies marched into my country
Raped and pillaged across my lands
But for now I must steel my heart.
 
I look at the army arrayed on this hill
Proud flying banners young naive soldiers
Brave, they don't know how brave, till they die
And already I can see them in the places they will lie.
 
I see them where they are standing, and I see them where they lie
Bent and broken things and blood every where.
They call this romantic, but for this grizzled hair I've had it.
I feel no glory, only shame. I sigh.
 
Maybe when the battle is over and the dead are buried
And this man and his armies are running, defeated and hurried.
I'll be able to try and understand his anger and his hate.
But I am standing with my army and the hour is drawing late.
 
And I must sound the horn to charge.
And now I go to my fate.
 
By Christopher H. Holte, channeling someone elses memories

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Population Growth and Disaster, Rebirth of Malthus or Time for Enlightenment??

Review of Scientific American Article

Population and Sustainability: Can We Avoid Limiting the Number of People?

This article in Scientific American is comprehensive and deals with the subject really well. I think anyone who is savvy on the subject would agree with their thesis that:

"Slowing the rise in human numbers is essential for the planet--but it doesn't require population control"

It is worth reading though I have a few critiques on some of the points.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Three Dead Fingers

The dead don't care
Whether death came from a firing squad
Or from the air.
 
The dying don't care
Whether their enemies are religious
Or mindlessly shooting targets from a drone
 
The dead don't care
Whether the bombs that killed them:
Are stamped "made in the USA,"
"Russia,"
Home Grown,
Or made in China.
 
This old game
Is neither fun
nor Good for anyone
Or the least bit fair.
 
I hear the old ones
The fat, gray haired ones
In stuffed shirts,
Wearing uniform ties
and gray coats
Presenting their bombs in brief cases
As footnotes in floods of paper
Drowning the dead in words.
 
In rhetoric
About fanatic religion
And rebels
And no fly zones.
Pontificating
and pointing fingers
At each other
 
Like bombs of misunderstanding
Or wands of curses and imprecations
 
As if those words were the jet planes
RPGs and drones,
Rocks being thrown
Delivering up death.
 
They point
As if they were speaking spells
and they weren't all of them liars
And guilty instead.
Each revealing his own guilt
With three fingers.
 
These old Greybacks
Hominid standing gorillas
Send children to fight their battles
While playing at rhetoric
And objectifying the dead.
The dead are ISIL and rebels
Are Shia and Sunna
Yazidi, Christian and Jews
Tossed in makeshift trenches
In ecumenical horror
With lime thrown in to reduce the stench.
 
All the While the greybacks pontificate from the bench
And partisans rant and rage
At who is at fault
and who built this cage?
That is tearing people apart
And throwing the pieces in graves
Where they bury their own pretenses
To civilization.
Remember the three fingered thing
When you point.
 
Bombs of misdirection
Lies piled upon lies
And meaningless facts
Piled in manilla stacks
On bureaucratic tables!
 
Pooh pooh, the food won't reach you
We bombed the convoy
So your benefactors can number among the dead!
We send you our bureaucratic condolences instead!
Our cordon will kill the rebels
And their families, children, relatives, neighbors, friends
And enemies
In deadly efficiency
 
The machine of war has been unleashed
In all its efficient confusion
Assumptions leading to contusions
Well meaning horror
Generating even more misery
As folks use bullets to stop bullets
And bombs to stop bombs.
 
How much better to escalate?
Than to build mountains
Of mindless hate?
"I want revenge because I am scared of you."
And you want revenge on me too!
We have harmed one another
What else can we do?
We fight near magiddo
Yet another Armageddon!
And centuries of antichrists
 
3 fingers accuse me too.
And my ancestors.
We survive on grace
In hopes of atonement
But not merit.
 
The dead can't point fingers
Only the living can do that
Their fingers have been severed
And tossed in trenches
By guilty survivors
Who will point at one another
And say
"This is your fault"
That they were buried to day
 
And the three fingered principle
Says yes it is ours
 
I can only look on in horror
As once again mixed intentions
Spin out in insanity.
The Accuser does his job
Hoping someone will stop him
The Satan is a prosecutor doing his job
With a jury of angels
None of us humans can lie to.
It is just facts.
Bones in the ground
That tell a story of injury and fear
Hunger and privation
And cannibal violence done by man
Human graybacks mindlessly fighting
Over resources and power
Using fear.
 
The dead don't accuse us
But their spirits do
Each was a person
Not a skeleton
A friend maybe
Or a lover
Someone to get to know
Objectified in death
 
Only the suffering is left
In echos and waves of hurt and fear
In us, their relations.
That three fingered thing
Is also our hope for salvation.
 
When we no longer feel
For what we have done
We are numb
And we are dying.
 
It is the living who suffer
And we are fools
Because we see these things
Time and again
Yet we keep pointing at ourselves
Instead of pointing all our fingers
In outstretched hands
And clearing the rubble.

 

Christopher H. Holte

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who Fired General Michael Flynn?

I've been trying to figure out Trump's foreign policy. Key to my confusion is listening to Donald Trump. So I turned to Michael Flynn to try to resolve it. His views seem to have "evolved" from when he was still in the military to the present moment. Not too long ago he conceded that the rise of ISIS/Al Qaeda was the responsibility of George W. Bush and the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. At one time he was in charge of our Defense Intelligence Agency. During that time he was in charge of interrogations. He was in charge of "torture lite" while in the military, he did shut down the amateur hour "torture heavy" efforts. Now he says;

"I felt the country was at such risk and I was advising five of the candidates running for president. They all reached out to me … Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. … They would ask me about national security, what’s happening in the world, my thoughts on particular issues." CNN_Flynn

Trump firt went to Russia while still:

"in the military [while director of the Defense Intelligence Agency]. I went there on a fully approved trip. I had a great trip. I was the first U.S. officer ever allowed inside the headquarters of the GRU [Russian intelligence]. I was able to brief their entire staff. I gave them a leadership OPD. [Professional development class on leadership] and talked a lot about the way the world’s unfolding." CNN_Flynn

He admits that:

"We were working closely with them on the Iranian nuclear deal." CNN_Flynn

Ultimately with Russian and Chinese cooperation we got a Nuclear Deal. Thanks to Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry's efforts. He, like Kerry, doesn't want to give them any credit for making such a deal for partisan reasons.

Bullying the Arabs

Flynn talks about demanding respect in return for continual aid from the USA. He maintains that we have to demand a relationship with Arab (and NATO) members:

"to be one based on respect and acknowledging that there is a cost for not doing that. There is a cost." CNN_Flynn

In that first part it sounds like he is talking about mutual respect. But he's talking about "respect" mafia style. He literally contradicts himself later in the same interview:

"you can put a different set of demands on these guys. Our conversations have been too polite. Our conversations have been political conversations with political people who try to be politically correct and not with people who can say, okay, what is it we want to have going forward? CNN_Flynn

Flynn is closer to Trump's views than Pence is. Like with Bush signing the Status of Forces agreement they blame Obama for, they criticize our involvement and then call for more involvement. Both seem to want to send in more troops, but bully the Arab states to pay for them. Maybe they want to invade Saudi Arabia next.

Why was he fired?

But I wrote this article as a vehicle for answering the question of why Flynn was fired. The answer is that apparently Flynn had his own ideas about Military Strategy. The Wasington Post reports:

"In 2010, Flynn rankled many of his counterparts in the intelligence community when he published an article that was sharply critical of the information that spy agencies were assembling in Afghanistan. The effort was so focused on tracking insurgents that U.S. military and diplomatic leaders got little to help them understand the political, economic and cultural issues driving the insurgency." [Washington Post]

The reality is that the article illustrated Flynn's frustration with fighting an insurgency that it was obvious the senior brass wanted no part of. The Washington Post reported:

"Flynn clashed with other high-ranking officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers. Officials said Flynn had opposed Vickers’ efforts to make significant cuts to large intelligence centers established to support the U.S. military’s regional overseas commands. A former CIA operative, Vickers has sought to model the DIA’s training and overseas presence more closely on its civilian counterpart, according to current and former U.S. officials." [Washington Post]

Flynn wanted the DIA to be more involved in the conflict. Not less.

Business Insider shared the "water cooler" arguments:

"Flynn attempted to push DIA analyses and operators into the field and other high-intensity operations. This ran counter to how the DIA saw itself, leading many to believe that Flynn's vision for the agency was disruptive." BI Article

He wanted to make DIA more like the Joint Special Ops Forces he'd run before coming there.

"Flynn's critics also maintained that his management style was chaotic and that his aggressive push for changes often did not include an adequate follow-through." BI Article

If you are going to integrate field battalion level Intelligence with Brigade level and Division level intelligence, then you institute policies to do so with the collaboration and cooperation of the people involved. Flynn wrote an article on the subject, but he doesn't seem to have followed through with his talk. And since he was the man in charge, it was his job to develop a plan and execute. He had taken over an intel operation that was using "Torture Heavy" techniques strait out of the Inquisition or the Russian playbook. He would implement less heavy handed "torture lite" techniques that met the Geneva Conventions (barely). He'd take credit for the "new" methods.

"Flynn previously served as a senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command. During this time he was credited with creating innovative interrogation techniques leading to significant breakthroughs in counterterrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." BI Article

I'm not sure what he actually did. But I can guess that he stopped the heavy handed methods and had his interrogators applying more FBI style questioning methods. I'm not sure he stopped the extreme isolation and sensory deprivation techniques, but I know Obama ordered him to.

Michael Flynn seems to have been actually booted for not respecting the chain of command, assuming that the Obama Administration and joint chiefs, had "no strategy" and for pushing for changes that would have required more boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, than anyone wanted to put there. His 2010 report "Fixing Intel" pushed for better intelligence integration, and more focus on understanding the local politics and culture. However, the strategy that the administration is pursuing is to pull out of direct action in Iraq and Afghanistan not to send in more Troops and DIA agents.

Calling Out Islamic Extremism

Of course he says he was booted for calling out Islamic Extremism. In a Washington Times Article:

“As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him,” Gen. Flynn said. “The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.” [Washington Times]

After saying that, he then contradicts himself! Saying we need:

"Iraq-style boots on the ground operation and the same type of coalition Mr. Bush assembled for Iraq is needed to defeat the Islamic State. He stressed the importance of giving Arab nations a leading role in the conflict, but he said Western troops would have to do much of the heavy lifting." [Washington Times]

Essentially he seems to want us to re-invade the Middle East!

Which is of course exactly the strategy he criticized when talking about President George Washington Bush! So the problem isn't that Obama and the Joint Chiefs don't have a clear strategy it is that he has his own ideas and doesn't like any strategy they might come up with. But essentially has no strategy that would reduce the human carnage of folks from the United States.

He also hints at the real problem with our efforts against ISIS:

“if we catch them financing, if they funnel money to IS, that’s when sanctions and other actions have to kick in.” [Washington Times]

He blames Obama for financing ISIL, but he neglects that our real problem is that our Sunni Allies are often on both sides, or ambivalent, about stopping ISIL, that the rebels against Assad are often half in the ISIL camp and that this is a thorny diplomatic subject due to the oil regime. The strategy he seems to want to pursue is to enlist Russia and Assad to help us attack ISIL, while bullying the Sunni Arab Gulf States. I'm sure that would work as well as invading Iraq or toppling Qaddafi. Meanwhile Trump talks about simply stealing the Oil.

Oye Vey!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/08/15/trump-adviser-michael-t-flynn-on-his-dinner-with-putin-and-why-russia-today-is-just-like-cnn/
http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-t-flynn-fired-from-dia-2014-4
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/1/michael-flynn-former-military-intel-chief-iraq-war/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/head-of-pentagon-intelligence-agency-forced-out-officials-say/2014/04/30/ec15a366-d09d-11e3-9e25-188ebe1fa93b_story.html
2010 Report "Fixing Intel: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/AfghanistanMGFlynn_Jan2010.pdf

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sustainable Economic Policy VII

Responsible Fiscal Policy through Functional Finance IS Possible

On April 18 2016, Brookings Institute hosted "the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD) and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), in partnership with the Global Economy and Development program", hosted a public discussion on “How can fiscal policy be growth-promoting and an anchor for macroeconomic stability?” They featured remarks by my favorite economists; Joseph Stiglitz, Massimo D’Alema, Jason Furman, Stephanie Kelton, and Ralf Stegner. The panel was chaired and moderated by Brookings Global Vice President Kemal Derviş. The webpage open:

"Fiscal policy has proven to be an effective way to stabilize macroeconomic growth and reduce the amplitude of the economic cycle. When used repeatedly, or excessively, however, it can lead to high levels of public debt that can undermine expectations of macroeconomic stability and so reduce or reverse the impact on growth. Getting the balance right is therefore critical in designing an optimal fiscal policy to support long-term growth." [Brookings]

Fiscal policy is currently restrained by our Privateering Private Banking System, moderated by Central Banks who govern the money supply in the interest of the private banking system -- and of "monied interests" who often wield massive power through their control of credit and ownership of properties directly or indirectly through debt.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Quantitative Easing really doesn't work that well

Quantitative easing "works" to a limited degree by easing liquidity through expanding the money supply (monetizing debt). It has the aim of:

"when the Fed buys these financial instruments, the money supply in the economy increases. This is evident when one looks at the U.S. monetary base, which shows that total amount of currency that is in circulation with the public, or held as commercial bank deposits in central bank reserves. (See Figure 3) [Forbes]

Quantitative Easing Cannot Substitute for Fiscal Policy

The Problem is that quantitative easing cannot substitute for fiscal policy. Ultimately the best way to inject money into the system is for the Federal Government to spend it directly on Goods and services. We've known this since Alfred Maynard Keynes wrote his seminal work on the subject. In our current system this is constrained by the need to "balance" budgets by issuing treasury debt to cover the money created.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vertical / Horizontal Money What is That???

The ideas behind the post Keynesian notions of Modern Money Theory (MMT) hit me by surprise. They seemed counter intuitive given my own education on the history of the Breton Woods Agreement, structure of our Reserve System, etc... And some of the terms used throw me. My mind has to translate them to good Anglo Saxon terminology just to wrap my brain around them. In order to make other points, however, I need to both be able to wrap my head around these ideas and explain them to others. So if you are interested in the subject I invite you to puzzle through it with me. If not you might want to skip this post and come back to it when you are ready.

Monday, September 12, 2016

When lefties betray the middle and elect righties

There is no doubt in my mind that Jill Stein and her followers are trying to elect Donald Trump. This is a continuation of a strategy that started with their behavior while ostensibly supporting Bernie Sander's campaign that I discovered and documented while running down allegations lodged against Hillary during his primary campaign. What I found were a number of programs, run by 501-c-3 groups, that were aimed at dividing the left and supporting the worst leftist narratives, such as charges that she's a "war-monger," A "neo-liberal", etc... To me she is a moderate on foreign policy, and definitely not a neo-liberal, but then I understand the word differently from far leftists.

Trolling The Left Redux

I wrote on this during the primary season in an article called Trolling the Left Stopping Hillary. I also wrote about how much of what we were hearing during the primary was material that the folks, like the Clinton's, might have said themselves about their predecessors at one time. [Stabbed with our own sword], but after the primary I've found evidence that, in addition to wealthy Right Wing industrialists trolling the left, the Russians seem to have been involved. That doesn't mean that either Bernie or Jill would win anything, even if Hillary were to die of pneumonia.

Personal Ambition Not Public Good

It just means that their candidacies are part of a plan, hatched by the right, but with treacherous cooperation from people on the left, to bring down the left from within. They knew they could draw, not only on years of GOP slurs, but years of backstabbing and rewriting of history aimed at blaming Bill Clinton for his successes and forgetting that Bill saved the left from years of being marginalized by the Nixon/Reagan Revolution. All that is out of scope for this post. The purpose of this post is to document the degree of the treachery of the so-called "Bernie or Busters" and the fact that Jill Stein seems intent on electing Donald Trump. Hopefully she'd fail.